why church staff change churches

Like many pastors I’ve made a couple of moves along the way from one church to another. In reflecting about this at one point, my heart was stirred about why Church Staff change churches. And while this isn’t an exhaustive list, I thought it was a great place to start. So in no particular order, here is my top 10 list of “Why Church Staff Change Churches:”

1. They think bigger is better

Often Staff are enamored with a larger more attractive ministry down the street that seemingly offers them a greater opportunity for influence, personal development, name recognition, career advancement, a greater or broader impact, or better resources to do ministry.

2. They think the grass is greener on the other side

That is to say that they are in a perpetual search for the perfect church or Lead Pastor to serve under. Neither of which exist by the way. What they will end up discovering over time is that the real issue driving a lot of this is their own lack of personal contentment.

3. There was a poor interviewing and hiring process

Let’s be honest with one another for a moment. Most churches don’t have a great process in place for hiring people. Often Staff have been set up to fail from day one by the churches that hire them because they should have never been hired or placed in that particular role in the first place. They simply lack the chemistry, character, competency, or a host of other “C” words they need to do the job.

4. They are offered more pay and better benefits to go somewhere else

Has this every happened to you? After I left a church that I was working for they actually ended up paying the next guy more to replace me than what they were paying me. I wondered, what if I had quit and reapplied for the job, would they have given me the same raise? It is rightly said that the best people in an organization will always go out on their own two feet. You may not like the bottom line, but if you don’t pay your top performers someone else will.

5. There is no vision or they don’t agree with the vision

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation. Someone (usually in a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th chair role) thinks that God has called them to speak for the Lord and help their poor Lead Pastor understand that it is time for the vision to change because they don’t agree with it. And they are just the person who has come down off of the mountain with the new blueprint for where the church should go next. Or on the other hand the vision is so unclear that people have a hard time understanding how to define success in their job, which leads to frustration, which leads to burnout. Either route you take you end up with a lot of frustration and an eventual job change.

6. They just can’t cut it and actually do the job at the required level

As a church grows often times if you are not careful the rate of growth can outpace the growth and development of the staff. Like shifting sand, the job description for your role literally can change and all of the sudden you can find yourself being asked to do things that you weren’t being asked to do 3 years ago.

7. They don’t feel appreciated

Often times very talented people simply are not put in the right seat on the bus. They are placed in a role that doesn’t allow them to use their gifts, abilities, and play to their strengths. As a result they never get groomed or developed for the next challenge, they only get frustrated. Sadly many people in this situation are left feeling as though their boss or the organization they work in doesn’t care about them. That they want something out of them or from them instead of something for them. The only thing more demotivating than not feeling as though you are making a real contribution in the work you’re doing is not feeling like your supervisor believes you’re the person to get the work done. Not feeling appreciated leads to going somewhere else where you do.

8. Conflict with their boss or other people

It’s tough to give your all to an organization when you don’t get along with the people you work with, where there is personality conflict with your boss, or you simply don’t like the people in the office. It’s important to remember that chemistry matters.

9. They get fired or downsized

This isn’t the most motivating, inspiring, or exciting way to leave a church. In fact it’s can be incredibly hurtful, humiliating, and even scary. But it is clear.

10. It’s God’s will

If you know God is calling you to something else, then that’s a great reason to leave a church. But you better be pretty sure that it was God you heard talking and not the pizza you had at 2:00am before you start waving around the “God wills it” card.

So in your opinion why do you think Church Staff change churches? When is it okay to go, and when should you stick it out? Leave a comment below.

Posted in Leadership, Staffing

11 Responses to “why church staff change churches”

  1. Tymm May 27, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    Interesting post. I don’t work for the church – well, strike that – if we’re Christians then we all work for “the church” but I don’t pay my bills via a church…

    But most of this stuff applies to the corporate world too. I think #10 is the kicker – and it probably plays in to all of the other reasons as well – you know us humans – we are notoriously slow at discerning God’s will so He’ll use other things like conflict, vision and greener grass to get our attention.

    Which reasons played in to your move?

  2. Amanda Chavez May 27, 2010 at 2:23 am #

    Man I have read some seriously thought provoking blogs in the last few days. This was another awesome one. Normally I am not much of a blog commenter but since I was just reading about something similar in my book yesterday (Spiritual Leadership) and its something that is a little dear to my heart. I absolutely agree with all of these you listed because i have either seen or experienced a good amount of them in the churches I have attended before and after Brent and I were together.
    The church we attended before Cornerstone was the church we had attended together since we were dating. I had started going there when I first moved to Arizona and had spent the majority of my spiritual walk at that church. They were our best of friends. We all went through being married around the same time, having kids around the same time, and even being on a church planting team together near ASU. We had done life with these people for a long time. Though we weren’t paid staff Brent and I served at a very high level with the church. The church changed direction/vision a few times over the years and even during the times when we weren’t sure we liked it as long as it was still in line with scripture we would trust that our leaders were guiding us in the right direction. We stuck it out for a while. Honestly probably longer than what maybe was best because the thought of parting with very very dear friends was painful I know for me. Not having any family in AZ I relied on them alot.
    So short story long…haha…to answer your question for me I think its important to stick it out until you really feel like God is calling you elsewhere or unless they are doing things that are unbiblical. I have seen when important leaders start to leave, people think that there is some sort of scandal and question the leadership. Its easy to think “Well there has got to be something going on for them to want to leave.” But obviously that is not always the case. I am not at all saying follow blindly but I think it is important to love, trust, and support the leadership God has place din your life for a reason.
    One thing that I have always stood firmly by and have witnessed quite a few times…and this is a quote for the chapter I read yesterday…

    “The departure of a strong and dominating leader makes room for others to emerge and develop.”

    Sometimes that one person who may have gifts to lead will never step up or be raised up until there are changes that make room for that person. I honestly believe with all of my heart that with all of the leadership changes at Cornerstone God is going to raise up some incredible, unbelievable leaders that I fully intend to pray for and support. Obviously it is no fun losing you and Lisa but we are still brothers and sisters in Christ and we are still serving the same amazing God. Doesnt matter where you guys are. I know Brent and I will pray for you guys and look forward to hearing all of the radical amazing things God is going to do in Atlanta through you. smile

  3. paul alexander May 28, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    I would tend to agree that God CAN use #1-#9 to communicate #10 to us but I think people often times get really funny trying to read the tea leaves of God’s will. MOST of the time I believe God would have us submit to the leadership He has placed in our lives…another principle to keep in mind is that the Lord calls people TO something far more often than AWAY from something.

  4. Lauri Barkman May 30, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    When I was growing up, my father was a pastor. He was a pastor in the Methodist denomination. This denomination is much different than other churches. Every May the Methodist board gets together to “place there pastors” For some reason my father was asked to move every year…My mom later told me that he would usually make someone on the board mad, so they would move him. Every year in May we moved to a new town, I was in a new school every year. I hated starting over every year, making new friends, leaving old. My father then left the Methodist church and took us to an Assembly of God church because he was hired as a youth pastor serving under a friend of his. This was a huge change, being raised in a church where all is calm and hymns are sung to a church who has drums and a guitar and who sing loudly and raise there hands…crazy!! My father then tried to start his own church here in Arizona, he was successful until he took his eyes off Jesus and ran away with another woman. As a teen and young adult I attended a church where after a year our youth pastor was asked to leave. I never knew the reasons why, just that they were no longer welcome, shortly after I left. I then attended a church for about 15 years, there were great changes with different members of staff and lots of hurt during the last few years of my attendance. I then turned to Cornerstone where for the first 6 months was lost in the crowd. Then I became a vital part of the Singles group. A year and a half later the Singles pastor moves…I seek counseling from the 2nd in command at church, now he and family are moving. My life has had so much change and heartbreak….I dont like when people leave!!

  5. oyun indir June 3, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    good perfect write thanks

  6. Dallas DUI Lawyer November 15, 2010 at 3:51 am #

    It sounds like people change churches for the same reasons they change jobs. I would think that the church would be better at keeping their staff.

  7. Jonathan Ben July 26, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    I honestly believe with all of my heart that with all of the leadership changes at Cornerstone God is going to raise up some incredible, unbelievable leaders that I fully intend to pray for and support.

  8. Richard Farretta November 1, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    Thanks for the very honest and open post. Even the most spiritual Christians I have met are big babies in Christ and we need to shower each other with huge amounts of mercy because that is what Jesus does.

  9. Ryan August 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    A few of these rang true to me at this season in my life. I have been a very “grass is greener” type of person over the past few years and I think it may be time to water the grass on my side of the fence and see what grows….

  10. Bryan Suddith March 31, 2014 at 6:14 am #

    This list could easily be applied to a secular or corporate job. Good list. Hope you are well brother!


  1. Why the Grass Isn't Greener at that Other Church | Ministry Jobs - August 28, 2020

    […] Work at a church? Trying to figure out if it’s time for you to leave your church? Check out this post about “Why Church Staff Change Churches.” […]

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